DIGITAL SME welcomes the European Commission’s new SME and Industrial Strategies

  • Digitalisation of SMEs is a key strategic objective for the Commission in both documents

  • This ambition needs to go hand in hand with concrete actions that enable SMEs and their eco-systems to drive the digital transformation

  • The digital skills gap will be addressed with a “Pact for Skills” that includes a specific SME component, as suggested by DIGITAL SME in our Skills Strategy 2030

DIGITAL SME, 10 March 2020. The EC has presented two long-awaited documents today: an SME Strategy and an Industrial Strategy. As Europe’s largest association of ICT small and mid-sized enterprises, DIGITAL SME is glad to see SMEs take centre stage in the EC’s plans for Europe’s future.

The digitalisation of SMEs is a key strategic objective for the Commission. This coincides with the recognition of more and more stakeholders that “digital enabler” SMEs are the drivers of the digital revolution. “Digital SMEs can do a lot to help other businesses [in their digitalisation]”, as Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said at the presentation of the two documents. Many of these digital enablers have organised around an ecosystem of clusters, hubs, and SME associations. Any action in the area of digitalisation needs to go hand in hand with enabling SMEs and their eco-systems to drive the digital transformation.

A new strategy for Europe’s SMEs

In the SME Strategy, Ursula von der Leyen and her team have laid out how SMEs will contribute to the continent’s “twin transition” towards a green and digital economy. Other key points of the SME Strategy include access to skills, the ability of SMEs to finance innovation and investments, and support for infrastructure development.

Particularly, we appreciate the relevance granted to digital skills through the introduction of a Pact for Skills. “This is a chance for the Commission to connect with the real business eco-systems as we suggested in our Skills Strategy 2030”, said Dr Oliver Grün, President of DIGITAL SME.

Finding a “European Way”  in the Industrial Strategy

The Commission’s new Industrial Strategy builds on the importance of key European value chains. While trying to find a “European way” between the US and Chinese industrial models, we need a strategy that builds on and supports the strength of Europe’s SME-based economy. Europe is not home to the handful of tech giants that dominate global markets. Our strength lies within the thousands of “digital enablers” and their industrial ecosystems, the majority of which are SMEs. A right balance has to be struck between ensuring a competitive free market that works for SMEs and meeting the challenges of global competition. You can read more on our views in this opinion piece by Dr Grün.

DIGITAL SME welcomes the Commission’s new Strategies and their strong emphasis on SMEs. The SME Strategy is aligned with DIGITAL SME’s Skills Strategy 2030. DIGITAL SME and its members look forward to working together with the Commission on implementing the Industrial and SME Strategies. Let’s build on our strong SME economy and its ecosystems and work together towards Europe’s digital sovereignty!